SIU football wins on senior day with dramatic second-half comeback


Saluki football players celebrate after their 44-34 win against Western Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, at Saluki Stadium. (Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Jonathan Thompson

The Salukis ended their season on a good note on senior night Saturday, beating Western Illinois in comeback fashion, 44-34.

SIU finished the season with a 4-7 record, 2-6 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Southern had a night to remember rewriting multiple school records.


SIU had 604 total offensive yards in the game, tied for 10th-most in the program’s history.

Sophomore quarterback Sam Straub also broke the single-game passing yard record with 450, along with four touchdowns and three interceptions.

“Football is all about dealing with adversity,” Straub said. “When you know you have a bunch of guys that believe no matter what happens it makes everything a lot easier.”

The Dawgs had to claw their way back into the game after losing a 14-3 lead. WIU had 28 unanswered points going into halftime.

The Salukis would finally respond with a 28-yard field goal by freshman kicker Matt Sotiropoulos in the third quarter.

Late in the third quarter, junior running back Jonathan Mixon ran in a 3-yard touchdown to bring SIU within one touchdown of tying the game.

WIU would respond quickly with a 39-yard field goal by senior kicker Nathan Knuffman on the following drive to extend the lead back out to 10 points.


Kauffman would have the chance to all but seal the game with 7:21 left in the game, but missed a 35-yard field goal.

SIU took advantage of the mistake and two plays later, Straub found senior reciever Billy Reed in the end zone to cap an 80-yard drive.

After a big stop on defense, Straub found senior wide receiver Israel Lamprakes for a 70-yard touchdown that put them in the lead 38-34. That pass put Straub over the single game passing yards record.

Southern had two receivers — Lamprakes and Reed — with more than 100 receiving yards for only the fourth time in program history.

Lamprakes finished with 203 yards on 11 receptions and two touchdowns. His 203 receiving yards is the second-most in a single game in SIU history.

“Last year, I had this feeling,” the sixth-year senior said. “To really go out like that with a great game, receivers out there making great plays, we had our defense coming back from 17 points. That’s a game you want to win. It was great, that’s all I could say.”

After an WIU interception, Mixon rushed 54 yards for another Saluki touchdown to put the game away.

“When Mixon broke the run, that was a special feeling,” coach Nick Hill said. “We haven’t been able to do that. We’ve been able to go get the lead, but we haven’t been able to put it away. That was a really special feeling.”

Mixon totaled 100 all-purpose yards with his two touchdowns.

McGuire threw his third interception on Western’s final drive of the game, this time to junior safety Ryan Neal, to end any chance the Leathernecks had to win the contest.

Staff writer Jonathan Thompson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TheReal_Jt3.

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